In the updated version of this post I’m explaining the ins and outs of Facebook Messenger ads and how to strategically deploy them in your business.
But before you can put them to work, you need to know the why—why this ad type matters to ANY and EVERY business…
I know it’s easy to assume that this ad type (or channel as a whole) would only work for “high-tech” audiences, or “big” companies that have the resources to man a customer communication channel… but, stay with me.
That’s not the case.
After doing a bit of thinking and research, I realized that assuming Messenger only works for highly technical markets is like saying that Facebook as a marketing channel only works for highly technical markets…
This chart from Business Insider is mind-blowing.
At the beginning of 2015, monthly usage of the top 4 messaging apps surpassed usage of the top 4 social networks… and it continues to grow.
And, over ONE BILLION people use Facebook Messenger as a whole. Even my great-grandmother (she’s in her 90’s) uses Facebook Messenger…
My point is that we must not only enter the conversation that’s already taking place in our customer’s head, we must BE in the places where our customers are having their conversations.
Aside from even advertising through Messenger, being reactive and responsive to your people throughout the entire Customer Value Journey via Messenger is essential.
I recently experienced this as a consumer.
I was driving down the road and saw a new apartment complex. I reached out via Messenger from their Facebook page to inquire about the property.
Every step of my Customer Journey, from scheduling a tour to negotiating the lease, was done through Facebook Messenger. It’s very likely that if they weren’t as responsive on Messenger as they were, I would’ve ended up living somewhere else.
If you get nothing else out of this article remember this… Messenger is an essential communication channel for businesses (and it’s still experiencing rapid growth).
Facebook reported that more than 1 in 2 people say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message, and 67% of people expect to message businesses more in the next 2 years.
It’s how people are communicating with family and friends. A large portion of our society prefers to communicate via a messenger with quick responses.
Adapt… or lose business to your competition.
Now, we, as marketers, have the opportunity to tap into this tremendous channel to grow our business and better serve our customers.
Here’s How It Works…
There are 3 different “types” of Facebook Messenger ads.
- Click-to-Messenger ads: These drive traffic and conversations, using Messenger as a destination
- Sponsored Messages: These allow you to send promotional messages even after the 24-hour rule has passed
- Messenger Home Placement: This is a placement for ads that can appear on your Messenger home screen (and they can take people either to a Messenger conversation or to a landing page)
Let’s start with…
Messenger Ad Type #1: Click-to-Messenger Ads
Purpose: To build your subscriber list and start conversations with new people.
These are the most popular and commonly used Messenger ads, and it’s easy to see why. They provide you with an extremely versatile way to start new Messenger conversations with people, using all of the normal ad & targeting options available inside Facebook.
Destination ads appear in the newsfeed, and when clicked on, open inside of a Facebook message (instead of sending traffic to a URL):
You can find this destination option at the ad level when creating a campaign in Ads Manager or Power Editor.
Click-to-messenger ads look and feel like a normal Facebook ad, with the option to include an image, video, carousel, slideshow, etc. The only real difference in their appearance is the call to action button, which will say “Send Message” or “Get Started”:
A few things to note about destination ads…
- You can target ANYONE(this is important—you can target interests, behaviors, custom audiences, etc.)
- They can show up in the newsfeed for Facebook and Instagram (desktop and mobile)
- They’re available for campaigns with the objectives “Traffic,” “Messages,” or “Conversions” (So, don’t panic if you chose another objective and don’t see Messenger as an option)
Ways to use this ad type…
What’s the biggest “hang-up” in your Customer Journey?
Use destination ads to give people an extra touch point with your brand. Help them overcome any barriers to purchase.
For example, we use Messenger ads to retarget people who visit our sales pages but don’t purchase the product. If you visit the sales page for DigitalMarketer Lab but don’t buy, you’ll see this ad:
There’s usually a reason people don’t buy, and if you give people a platform to ask questions and help overcome doubt, it works wonders. For example, people want to know if the product will actually work for their business, if there is a contract or commitment, if they can add team members, etc.
Once their questions are answered, most are ready to purchase the product. This entire conversation is happening via Facebook Messenger.
- Cold traffic
We have the option to run destination ads to cold traffic (people who have never heard of our brand).
This can be used to raise awareness and acquire customers, but—it must be done right.
The key here is to make sure the ad prompts an ideal sales conversation. For example, if your ad asks people to respond with their favorite color, it’s probably going to be a waste of time and money.
But, if you can prompt a conversation that leads to your ideal sales conversation… you’re golden.
Imagine you own a home improvement company that provides a slew of services: plumbing, landscaping, painting, etc.
You could run an ad in your local area that says: “If you could ‘fix’ one aspect of your home, what would it be?” People will respond with answers like “landscaping” or “I’d paint my home.” You now know each person’s pain point, and you can cater your conversation with them around this topic. As a result, your odds of making a sale will be much higher.
Again, I wouldn’t recommend starting here as I don’t believe this is the most highly leveraged activity within Facebook Messenger ads, but, it’s worth a shot when you’re ready for scale.
2 Quick Tips for Your Click-to-Messenger Ads
For the best results, I highly recommend following these best practices when creating click-to-messenger ads inside Facebook:
- Always set the right expectation.
Even though these ads have been around a while, many people are still unfamiliar with them and may be surprised when they click on the ad and Messenger opens. So make it clear, in your ad copy, that clicking on the call to action button will open a Messenger conversation.
You don’t want to surprise people, because they may get confused. So make sure they understand exactly what’s going to happen.
- For your marketing objective, use “Traffic” or “Messages” instead of “Conversions.”
I know, I know—we all want more conversions (more leads and sales). But the problem with using “Conversions” for these ads as your objective is that Facebook won’t get enough data to really optimize your campaign.
So until pixels are implemented inside Messenger in some way, I recommend optimizing your click-to-messenger ads for Traffic or Messages.
Messenger Ad Type #2: Sponsored Messages
Purpose: To re-engage with and send promotional messages to people who are already subscribers.
Sponsored messages appear inside the Facebook Messenger inbox of your Messenger subscribers (in other words, anyone who has messaged you in the past and has not unsubscribed).
It’s an identical experience to receiving a Facebook message from a friend, these just come from a brand.
If you’re using a Messenger marketing tool like ManyChat (and I hope you are), then you already have the ability to send broadcasts and promotional messages to the people on your list. But when sending messages through a tool like ManyChat, you’re only allowed to send promotional messages within a 24-hour window after that person has interacted with your chatbot.
What makes Sponsored Messages so powerful is that you can send a promotional message anytime you want—even if it’s outside of that 24-hour window.
You can find this option at the ad set level when creating a campaign in Ads Manager or Power Editor. First, set your marketing objective as “Messages”:
Then choose “Sponsored Messages” from the drop-down:
By default, your message will be sent to everyone who has an existing conversation with you in Messenger. If you want to narrow down that targeting further, you can do so by clicking on “Advanced Options” under Audience. There you can narrow your focus to target subscribers based on their location, demographics, interests, etc.
In terms of placements, there’s only 1 option available: Sponsored messages. So you don’t have to change anything there.
For Sponsored Messages, Facebook recommends choosing a lifetime budget over a week. And right now, the cost is about $30 per 1,000 impressions. So a little napkin math should make it easy to figure out what your budget needs to be in order to reach all of your Messenger subscribers.
When creating an actual message, you can include links and images—like we do in this one:
Here’s where you can customize that stuff inside the Ads Manager:
You can also customize customer actions (such as providing suggested quick replies). But if you’re using ManyChat, you don’t have to worry about that—just use Facebook to send the initial message, and then let ManyChat take over from there.
A few things to note about sponsored messages…
- You can ONLY target people who have previously messaged your page in the past. (As long as they haven’t unsubscribed.)
- It’s available for campaigns with the “Messages” objective.
- Keep in mind that your messages won’t necessarily be delivered immediately. In Facebook’s words: “You should expect the majority of your sponsored messages to deliver in the 3–5 days after your campaign starts. If you want to manually schedule a start and end date for your campaign, it’s recommended to set your campaign length for at least 1 week, to ensure full delivery.”
- Only 1 sponsored message will be delivered per person, per ad set. If you want to send multiple sponsored messages to each person, you’ll need to create multiple ad sets.
- Facebook charges advertisers by impressions, which means you are charged whether the end user opens the message or not. That is, unless you use a tool like…
ManyChat is much more than a “bot” (in my opinion, the bot is the least sexy feature).
ManyChat builds a list of subscribers that you can send sponsored messages to; people who have previously messaged your page:
Although Facebook is building this list, too, the benefit is ManyChat allows you to broadcast sponsored messages to your subscriber list for just $10/month (instead of paying Facebook on a CPM basis):
We’ve sent sponsored messages to our subscriber list, and the open rates have been INSANE (especially compared to email open rates)!!
As I mentioned above, the only limitation to ManyChat broadcasts is that you can only send promotional messages in the first 24 hours after someone has interacted with your bot. That’s Facebook’s rule, not ManyChat’s, and it’s there to help keep spam low and engagement high inside Messenger.
So that you, as an advertiser, can continue to use this channel effectively for years to come!
Messenger Ad Type #3: Messenger Home Placement
Purpose: A new placement where you can display your Facebook ads.
This isn’t really a type of ad, so much as a new placement. And the difference here is that your ad shows up inside Messenger home (as opposed to showing up inside of a specific conversation).
Here’s an example of what that looks like. Notice that the ad is sandwiched in between 2 different conversations:
Here’s another example:
And here’s where you can choose the Messenger Home placement:
Depending on your campaign, you could choose to have this ad open inside of Messenger… or you could have it take the person to a landing page. Feel free to experiment with these options, but keep in mind that because people are already inside of Messenger, there will be less friction if you keep them on Messenger rather than try to take them somewhere else (like your website).
OK, next I want to touch really briefly on…
How to Monitor Your Messenger Ad Performance
Obviously you’ll want to monitor the performance of your Messenger ad campaigns to see how they’re performing. And to see all the engagement metrics from your Messenger ads, just head over to the Ads Manager and choose “Messenger engagement” from the drop-down on the right:
Facebook will organize the columns to show your Messenger stats, including your total replies, link clicks, new messaging conversations, etc.
Just wanted to make sure you know that these metrics are available to you!
So, ready to put Facebook Messenger ads to work in your business? Let’s talk about…
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How to Build Your Subscriber List
Sponsored messages are so powerful, and—this is really important—the fact that you can only send them to people who have previously messaged your page will keep this from becoming a spam-fest.
But, there does need to be list building strategies, similar to email.
For one thing, you can use destination ads to build your Messenger subscriber list.
ManyChat also provides a unique URL that when clicked, opens a Facebook message with your brand page.
For example, we sent an email and used the link to drive messages:
Not only did this provide an extra line of communication for people who would prefer to use Messenger, it sold tickets! As you can see from this Facebook Messenger conversation between a customer and one of our sales reps…
If you’re using a software like Shopify, you can integrate with Facebook and build your subscriber list as people purchase your product:
You can also send follow-up messages to confirm the order and send shipping information:
…Which is a great way to improve user experience.
And, don’t forget—even people who message your page (for customer service related questions, for example) are added to your subscriber list!
You may be wondering, Wow… this sounds awesome, but it requires a lot of human resources to answer messages!
And, you’re right. But, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it AND it doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from this ad type even if you’re a 1-person show. Here are a few tips:
- Start super small, down the funnel. Use destination ads to retarget people who are toward the bottom of your funnel. This will ensure you’re having fewer, but more highly-leveraged conversations.
- Get help from a bot. Use ManyChat’s bot feature to welcome people who message your page, you could essentially automate the sales process with this tool.
- Use the tagging system inside of Facebook Messenger to stay organized. Our team created tags to help systemize the process:
I also recommend integrating your customer service and sales platforms with Facebook Messenger so that your team can leverage Messenger while still having access to customer information.
Using Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature to Grow Your Subscriber Base
If you’re using ManyChat (or similar tools), you have the opportunity to leverage Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger feature. This feature allows you to auto-message any person that comments on a specific Facebook post.
And if they respond to your message, they’ll automatically be added to your subscriber list.
Here’s an example…
Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to set up and deploy this strategy… along with examples of different business types.
Take advantage of Facebook Messenger ads to connect with your audience in a more interactive and meaningful way. Using the tools I’ve described in this post, you can build systems in your business that leverage this channel so that you can build a subscriber list, similar to email. Then…
Test, test, test, and as always… let us know how these strategies are working in your business!